The Dip: When to Quit (and When to Stick)
There comes a time in every business owner’s life that they experience “The Dip”.
You might not know that is what it’s called, but you will definitely experience it at some point in your business life.
The dip is the feeling of helplessness, frustration or boredom about your business. It’s the feeling that no matter what you do there’s a roadblock at every corner.
It could be the tax man with a sudden large and unexpected tax demand. It could be a client promising to place an order, but never actually giving it. Or it could be a supplier who is always letting you down and delivering late or providing faulty stuff.
It’s frustrating. It’s annoying and you’ll feel lost and alone.
Welcome to the dip.
According to Jamie Tardy of the Eventual Millionaire Podcast, a show dedicated to interviewing millionaires to find out how they made it, one of the top 10 books recommended by the millionaires she’s interviewed is The Dip: (the extraordinary benefits of knowing when to quit and when to stick) by best selling business author Seth Godin.
Five years ago I was going through my very own dip in my property business. I didn’t know it at the time that this is what it was called, but I was definitely experiencing it. I couldn’t decide which way to go. Property values were continuing to fall, refinancing was difficult and bad debts were growing. To make matters worse, coaching clients were thin on the ground and a consulting client couldn’t make their mind up about awarding a new contract.
It was a tough time.
We had a family holiday arranged and like most people heading for a week in the sun, I grabbed some books to take with me.
One of the books I packed was The Dip.
The Dip is a short book. (Less than 100 pages) you can read in an hour or so and it’s full of pearls of wisdom about quitting – (longer if there’s a waiter bringing you an endless supply of cocktails).
Essentially it’s about challenging the notion that to be successful you need to persevere and tackle obstacles.
Godin rightly points out that “winners never quit” is bad advice. The truth is winners quit all the time. The trick is figuring out what you should quit and when.
“Winners do Quit”
Dip vs “Cul-de-Sac”
Knowing when to quit is as important as knowing when to give up.
Godin describes the two most common situations that lead people to quit — the “Dip” and the “Cul-de-Sac.”
The Dip is the long, hard period between starting something new and finally mastering it. It’s the time when the excitement has worn off and the dream is yet to be realised.
This is time that although it seems quite reasonable to quit, you should stick things out. Why? Because, says Godin, “almost everything in life worth doing is controlled by the Dip.”
And while the Dip may seem long and painful, the good news is that it’s actually a shortcut to success.
The Dip weeds out the competition. If you’ve ever run a marathon (or half marathon for that matter) it’s the akin to the 23 mile mark (or the 10 in the half). It’s the point where many hit the “wall and give up.
But if you can get through the wall, you’ll eventually make it through the Dip.
Once you’ve come through the other side, you’ll be the company of a very small bunch of people who are the best in your field.
Any business you can imagine went through the Dip and came through the other side.
Godin says that the secret to coping with the Dip is to figure out before you start if what you’re doing is actually worth doing. If the potential pay-off isn’t big enough, then don’t start.
Quit before you enter the Dip.
So if what you’re doing matters, be prepared to persevere – because quitting in the middle is a waste of time and effort.
No one quits the Boston Marathon at mile 25
As Godin says: “No one quits the Boston Marathon at mile 25” – “who, after all, is going to drop out when the finish line is in sight?
The opposite of the Dip is the Cul-de-Sac. Sometimes we commit to a project, but the situation has changed and there’s no potential for the outcome you set out to achieve.
Cul-de-sacs never improve – no matter how hard you try, they just sap your energy and drain your bank account. Diverting your attention from making it through another dip.
In other words the Dip is a temporary setback but a Cul-de-Sac never improves. Stop it now.
Change your plan
But what if your objective is the right one, but you aren’t getting the “right” results. Then maybe you should look at changing your plan. Changing your plan or approach will get you entirely different results.
Once you know the difference between the right stuff and the wrong stuff you should proceed accordingly.
“All our successes are the same. All our failures, too.
We succeed when we do something remarkable.
We fail when we give up too soon.
We succeed when we are the best in the world at what we do.
We fail when we get distracted by tasks we don’t have the guts to quit.
Quit the wrong stuff.
Stick with the right stuff.
Have the guts to do one or the other.”
– Seth Godin
In face, what really sets superstar performers (in business or in life) apart from everyone else, it is the ability to escape cul de sacs and dead ends quickly, while staying focused and motivated when it really counts, is what will get you results.
Winners vs Losers
“Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt—until they commit to beating the right Dip for the right reasons. In fact, winners seek out the Dip. They realize that the bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward for getting past it. If you can become number one in your niche, you’ll get more than your fair share of profits, glory, and long-term security.”
Godin describes Losers, on the other hand, as those falling into two basic traps. Either they fail to stick out the Dip—they get to the moment of truth and then give up—or they never even find the right Dip to conquer.
Back to My Dip
Back to the dip I experienced in my business. As it turned out, I had a dip and a cul-de-sac. I quickly realised that the consulting client wasn’t going to go anywhere – so stopped following up. My property and coaching business was a question of riding it out. The pay off was there, I just needed to ride the storm.
Why I Like This Book
Gyms are full of quotes like “Winners never quit and quitters never win”. Godin on the other hand looks at quitting as a key ingredient to success and makes a very strong case against the “quitters never win” adage. It’s not that quitters don’t win, but more that only the savvy, courageous ones who do.
Well worth checking out The Dip on Amazon.
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